The Winter of Our Discontent

I don’t see how the vitriol on either side of this election ends after the votes are counted. No matter who wins in November the schism in this nation will only grow and get nastier unless something is done to restore people’s faith in the institutions of politics and the press.

Recent Wikileaks disclosures about press bias, Project Veritas videos that show Democratic political operatives admit to voter fraud and political violence, added to President Barack Obama’s legacy of lies don’t make people confident.

The people already believe Hillary Clinton should have been indicted over her e-mail mess.

Of course, what the people believe isn’t necessarily the law, but now FBI agents are now talking to the press and are angry with FBI Director James Comey. They say he got in the way of their investigation. That’s a serious charge.

If you’re keeping score that’s the IRS, and the possibility of the Department of Justice colluding with the administration to break the law for political gain.

Those Podesta Wikileaks don’t do Hillary Clinton any favors. Seems Patrick Kennedy tried to make a deal with FBI investigators into declassifying some of Hillary Clinton’s documents.

Everyone’s denying it. Like that insurance commercial says, “that’s what we do.”

There are many other disturbing Wiki revelations if you can find them.

Which brings me to the news media.

I think the proffering of a quid pro quo (bribe) for changing a security classification is a serious thing. People get in trouble for stuff like that. Most people.

But it seems that Will Rogers had this situation covered.

“All I know is what I read in the papers, and that’s an alibi for my ignorance.”

I went looking for stories about the quid pro quo on the afternoon of 10/17. As of about 4:00 pm neither the NY Times or Washington Post had stories up.

It took the Washington Post print edition until Tuesday the 18th to report the story most other media had reported for days. Yesterday’s news tomorrow.

If you go through the print edition of the Post you’ll see article after article bashing Trump while ignoring Hillary’s problems. This has been going on for months.

The latest batch of Wikileaks show the NY Times’ Maggie Haberman as someone the campaign can count on to get out their message.

So far, I’ve seen no comment from the reporter or the NY Times. Other reporters at various news organizations are named throughout as “friendlies.”

Before I retired, a DC councilman used to refer to me as “Fucking Gottlieb.” My colleagues would laugh when they knew I had him on the phone. I guess I got under his skin. He wasn’t used to being pushed.

And no, despite what you might have heard, DC Council people are not read their rights as they’re sworn in as a time saver.

The people’s confidence in the press is at the lowest point it’s ever been. Who can blame them?

The frustration also comes from the obvious media bias displayed by what we call the mainstream media. As I’ve written in the past, more coverage is better than less coverage when it comes to anything.

But the news media doesn’t seem to agree.

While there’s been some good, if not hysterical, reporting on Donald Trump and his past, it’s as if Hillary Clinton were born yesterday.

If you’re in your twenties or thirties you probably don’t really know much detail about the Clinton administration and especially about Hillary’s past behavior.

Hillary’s first act as First Lady was the destruction of a man named Billy Dale. Dale ran the White House travel office for years before Clinton decided she wanted her cronies in there.

Yes, the president has a right to choose employees, but Hillary literally destroyed Dale by having him prosecuted for embezzlement. He was exonerated but broke from defending himself. His crime? Wanting to keep his job.

Of course, Hillary said she had nothing to do with Dale’s troubles. You’ll be shocked to know she lied. (Transparency note: I did business with Dale when I was a DC Bureau Chief.)

Or there was Hillary’s behavior during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Maybe Maureen Dowd put it best: Hillary killed feminism.

I’m not the only one who thinks the media have screwed the pooch. Here’s what the Wall Street Journal’s Kimberley A. Strassel wrote.

Hillary’s health? A big meh, and you better not report on it said the press, but here’s how the Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway took apart the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza.

Cillizza was torn to shreds on Twitter after this inexplicable Tweet:

cillizzatweet10-16-16

My response was simple, and perhaps not so eloquent. “Bullshit.” It was retweeted dozens of times over twenty four hours.

If you follow Cizzilla on Twitter you can see his open derision of Trump and his supporters. If you follow some of his colleagues at the Post and NY Times you’ll see the same thing.

It’s keyboard courage.

Now, Cillizza and others, are shocked angry citizens are fighting back and “yelling at them.” Grow a pair. At least no one is “grabbing your arm.”

But even “The Fix” sees the public’s love affair with the press is long over. So he writes piece defending journalism against Donald Trump’s criticism. The piece is worth reading for the statistics and for one unintentionally ironic line.

“If one group allowed itself to be attacked relentlessly for decades, what do you think people would think of it?” Cizzalla then shows a graph showing America’s disdain for the media.

Isn’t piling on what they just did to Trump?

Admittedly, some of the newspapers did decent reporting on the Clinton Foundation. Like the NY Times on Hillary’s uranium sell out to the Russians.

And the Washington Post story on buying access to then Secretary of State Clinton.

Good stories, but too few and much too far in between. It doesn’t matter how much you hate Donald Trump. You still have an obligation to report on Clinton.

Cable and network news have become a hot mess of anything negative about Trump, and as little as possible that can hurt Hillary. Even when Hillary’s troubles are reported by media they’re underplayed.

I used to watch MSNBC and CNN in the morning. I thought the talk was smarter on MSNBC, but Mika’s insane rantings became too toxic for me. Angered up the blood and threatened to give me skin failure or even worse: bonus eruptus. Not a good way to start the day.

Over on CNN, Chris Cuomo would occasionally do a decent political interview, but it’s obvious where his heart is. Cuomo also says stupid stuff. His latest tweet about who can and cannot see stolen Wikileaks material was bizarre if not uninformed for a lawyer and journalist.

Cuomo’s comments and the media’s initial reluctance to publish the Podesta and other Wikileaks (after some media – cough, cough the Washington Post, crowd sourced the Cairo leaks) made me wonder what Daniel Ellsberg would think about all this.

Daniel Ellsberg, a State Department analyst, leaked “The Pentagon Papers” to the New York Times in 1971. The Pentagon Papers showed that our government knew early on that we would not win the Vietnam War and grossly lied about casualty projections and more.

The Nixon administration blocked the Times from publishing, but the Supreme Court sided with the Times and the paper published the leaked info for two weeks.

Ellsberg was charged with espionage, conspiracy, and theft. Because of the government’s misconduct the case against Ellsberg was dismissed. Here’s what Ellsberg had to say about Wikileaks.

CNN even has its very own Hillary media apologist in Brian Stelter. His daily newsletter tries to set the agenda for Trump bashing, while ignoring Hillary’s bad news.  It’s also a thinly veiled house organ.

When I once asked Stelter on Twitter where all the news was about Hillary’s e-mails, his response was that “Trump is a media story.” OK, and Hillary’s not?

Stelter has been a big proponent of the “false equivalency” argument in covering Trump that was started by the NY Times’ Jim Rutenberg.  Simply stated, Trump is so horrible that media shouldn’t be objective in their reporting about him. Rutenberg is a good writer and journalist. His piece is worth reading even though I strongly disagree with him.

My problem is that Rutenberg and Stelter are giving the media cover for biased reporting.

Remember, Stelter is a former TV gossip site guy, who became a media reporter for the NY Times, who is now a media reporter/gossip guy for CNN. It’s tough to take him seriously sometimes given his track record. Apparently, some of his media reporting colleagues don’t either.

When Katie Couric was caught doing misleading edits to a gun documentary Stelter didn’t run the story on TV for a week. Naturally, stories popped up that Jeff Zucker, Stelter’s boss, spiked the story to help his old NBC friend Katie.

Stelter denied everything.

FTV’s Scott Jones was having none of it. For those of you not familiar with FTV, it’s a sometimes raw and derisive look at the TV and media business. Scott takes no prisoners.

It’s not often media critics attack each other, but Stelter drew fire from the Daily Caller’s Betsy Rothstein after his toadish reporting on Hillary’s health issues.

Most recently Stelter blamed Donald Trump’s rhetoric for the fire-bombing of a GOP headquarters in North Carolina. Basically, that’s the argument that “if I say something you don’t like enough, it’s OK to attack me.” I’ll let that just sit there.

As a news guy, I know to get my news from multiple sources. I now do so while sitting on my deck with a cup of coffee. With no multiple daily deadlines or producers to annoy me, I’m able to read a pretty good sample of news from the left and the right. Instead of news people braying teases into commercials for diseases I’ve yet to get, I hear birds singing. That eases the absurdity of the day’s news. There’s one cheeky squirrel who hangs out on the deck rail and eats nuts. While his impudence annoys me, he’s preferable to watching the same pundits make the same party talking points day in and day out. Think “Groundhog Day.”

The way things stand today it looks as if Hillary Clinton will win the election. While poll numbers are all over the place, most have her ahead.

Donald Trump has charged that the election is rigged. This freaks out journalists and political types to no end. While he has no proof this is the case, and that makes me nervous as a journalist, Trump’s charges would get no traction if people trusted the government.

And it’s troubling we’re seeing more and more stories like this.

Like him or not, James O’Keefe may have uncovered systemic fraud in the system. His latest videos should be taken seriously.

It’s unreasonable for people to ask:  How can I trust the government that just silenced its political opposition by using the IRS against them and no one went to prison. How can I trust the government after FBI agents say their boss impeded their investigation into their boss’ chosen successor?

Yes. Donald Trump is an asshole for making unsubstantiated charges and for many other things. But if the government is going to cheat in the ways described above, why is it impossible they would rig an election?

Is there “even a smidgeon” of rigging? I would ask Barack Obama, or Elizabeth Warren who’ve complained of a rigged system themselves.

As they say on social media: “where was the outrage?”

Should we consider information rigging a form of election rigging? Information is power, and without that information voters can’t make a wise decision on who to vote for. It’s the press’ job to show us all the warts, not just the warts they don’t like. When the press withholds information from the people, it’s the media making voting decisions for the people.

The Podesta Wikileaks show former CNN commentator and head of the DNC Donna Brazile leaked a question to the Clinton camp. Here’s what Jake Tapper had to say.

As Chris Cizzilla says, a constant pounding has an effect. Americans don’t like the pounding they’re getting from the press. They have an absolute right to be angry. The press won’t even buy lunch first.

Those opposed to the status quo have chosen Donald Trump as their instrument of destruction. While Trump, for some, is a big symbolic FUCK YOU to both the political and media establishments, most supporters are not the loudmouth louts the media portrays them to be. Salena Zito is one of the few reporters today that has a feel for the American people.

Zito also writes about American’s frustration with the news media. She’s spot on.

You may think I’m going to vote for Donald Trump. You’d be wrong. At this point in time I am not voting for president. I’ll vote in the other races, as if that matters. I live in the People’s Republic of Maryland, where Democrats tax the rain on your roof and gerrymander Republican districts out of existence. I reserve the right to change my mind based on events between now and election-day.

Our choices for president are down to Hillary Clinton, perhaps the most self-serving, dishonest politician who ever walked the earth. A woman that sold her office at the State Department. A woman that trashed her predatory husband’s victims while proclaiming all sex assault victims should be believed. A woman that continues to lie, in the face of reality, about classified e-mails.

Hillary is the business as usual candidate who represents everything we say we hate about politics. Clinton is the rotten intersection of politics, influence and money that we all despise. Yet she is the media’s darling. This is hard for me, and many others to understand. The Clintons simply have no moral or ethical center. What does that say about the press? And no, it is not a binary choice.

One writer called Hillary the most unfit and undeserving candidate to run for president.

Donald Trump has brought to light a number of issues that needed airing like illegal immigration and the real threat of Islamic terrorism. Say it Barack. Just say it.

At the same time, whenever I would start to hold my nose enough to vote against Hillary, Trump would say something ignorant and make unforced errors. Knowing the news media will jump down your throat if they found out you said “doody” when you were eight, why would you not be more careful? Because Trump is all over the place on many issues it doesn’t feel like he has a coherent vision for the nation. I don’t know who he is.

The who he is that I do know, I don’t like.

Donald Trump is American businesses Hillary Clinton. A bragadocious bullshitter stuck in a bad time warp. He’s the dark side of the retro days we love reminisce about. The bad old days of three martini lunches and what followed. Trump was that “international guy” girls would dread. The guy with “Roamin’ hands and Rushin’ fingers.”

As for the locker room tape, there’s no defending it. At that point in Trump’s life he should have been beyond that kind of talk. I say beyond that stuff because despite what anyone says, that kind of talk, and worse, did go on in some locker rooms. I don’t care what athletes say when interviewed by reporters. No one admits to behavior like that. “Sure, that shit goes on all the time over in our locker room. “

The same media that trashed Trump for his recorded comments about “grabbing pussy,” ignored a host of accusations against Bill Clinton, saying they were just accusations. While Trump shot off his mouth about vile acts, President Clinton committed those acts. See Paula Jones.

Here’s what Michelle Obama had to say about Hillary Clinton in 2008.

Now Michelle is out campaigning for Hillary? See why the people are frustrated?

The Trump accusers who sat quietly for years, then emerged followed the video that was buried until a month before the election are just that, accusers. It’s not like the media ever jumps to conclusions. If you believe Trump’s accusers why not believe Clinton’s accusers?

Compare media’s treatment of Trump to how they treat the Clintons.

Still, none of the above is an excuse. The standard can’t be “vote for me because I’m the same as Bill Clinton.” We have to do better, if we’re going to get better.

While Victor Davis Hanson makes a strong case that you have to vote for Trump to stop Hillary, at this point I can’t.

In fact, most Americans are voting against a candidate rather than for a candidate.

On November 9th, when we wake up and one of the two worst people in the world is our president elect, it’s hard to see us coming together. Whoever wins will do everything they can to hold onto and extend their power. The democrats have already signaled their move. They plan to use Obama and Eric Holder to gerrymander the GOP out of existence.

While I have little hope for the politicians, I want to have hope for the press. How does the news media regain the trust of the people it claims to serve? The first step is to admit there’s a problem. Right now defensive is what I see.

Here are a few things to think about to start the conversation.

Do we need an affirmative action program to recruit conservative journalists into media? We did it for women and minorities saying that their viewpoints should be represented in newsrooms. Why not conservatives? Only 7% of media identify as Republicans. That’s way below their representation in the population. Isn’t that how we look at diversity these days?

Since journalists have decided to drop impartiality it would only be fair to be transparent about who they are. Let’s develop on screen symbols for how people reporting, or opining, on elections have voted in the past. Has the journalist or pundit worked for a political party? Are they related to someone in politics or to a political operative? Like so many of the bloviators you see these days, do they work for an organization that promotes or supports a point of view, candidate, or party? You get the idea.

Should we vet the people who purport to vet our leaders?

How do we hold the media accountable?

What should the people’s reaction be to media they know isn’t telling the whole truth? Is the answer an economic boycott of media sponsors? That seems to work for some pressure groups. Why not a pressure group to fix journalism?

How about accuracy ratings? How often do they get it right?

I’d like this to be the start of a conversation. That’s what journalism is. Everyone is a stake-holder in a trustworthy and honest news media. I’m interested in what news consumers have to say. Sometimes journalists can’t see the forest for the trees.

Oh, and The Winter of Our Discontent?

For those of you who haven’t read John Steinbeck’s last book (1961) it may have some relevance to what we see in front of us these days. (Steinbeck took the title from the first line of William Shakespeare’s “Richard III.”)

It’s the story of a man who will do anything to regain the wealth and status his family enjoyed before his father lost their fortune.

He will cheat friends and take bribes.

He turns in an illegal immigrant who unwittingly trusts him, and signs over his store as he’s being deported because he thinks the man who screwed him is honest.

Can you guess the two people I’m thinking of?

I won’t tell you how the book ends. Read it and find out.

As for how this election ends, it won’t. I think we’ll be litigating it for a long time.

The mistrust is too deep. The wounds we’ve inflicted on each other are fierce.

Revelations that Hillary Clinton’s team is behind some of the violence at Trump rallies just turned the dial up to eleven. This seems like a violation of civil rights.

Reports of another GOP office vandalized, this time in Delaware, feel like attempts at intimidating voters.

What happens when victims of this violence and intimidation have had enough?

What do you think?

I don’t know how we bring out our better instincts. I don’t know if we have better instincts.

I’ve spent the better part of this piece blaming the politicians and news media for Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. They deserve it.

But truth be told we’re responsible for the institutions we don’t trust. They couldn’t exist without our acquiescence.

Walt Kelly’s “Pogo” comes to mind:

“We have met the enemy and he is us.”

 

© 2016 carlgottliebdotnet

Boycott Trump?

Trumpface
Photo courtesy: The Blaze
The Atlantic’s Ron Fournier made a not so modest proposal this week. He believes the media should boycott Donald Trump until he does the things Fournier says he should do.

Before I criticize his idea, let me note that I read most of his work and have admired him as a journalist and writer for a long time.

Sure, I want to see Trump’s tax returns. I’d like to see everything Ron would like to see, and more. As for the “Russian connection,” it takes more than a claim by a Democratic party operative and a piece in Slate to make something credible. As I’ve said in a prior piece, it took the FBI a year to determine they didn’t know who may have hit Hillary’s server. But we know in two days the Russians hacked into the DNC server because “experts.”

Fournier says political journalism has to change to meet the challenge Trump has presented. Change the rules because you can’t do your job? Now that sounds like journalism.

But boycotting The Donald isn’t enough. Fournier wants media to ban his “surrogates.” You know, those talking heads you see on TV that represent the candidates. It seems fitting Ron would link to a Media Matters “article.” Always a great Soros for news. I mean source.

More silence from a profession that professes more speech. Oh, and punish those whose speech you don’t like for good measure. Anyone else hear the Republic crashing?

Look, Fournier is a pundit. He’s there for his “learned” opinion. To be fair, I’ve seen him hit Hillary really hard too. And maybe to save his journalistic integrity just a tad, he finally gets to Hillary in the last paragraph of his piece. He’d like herself to give up the Wall Street transcripts (please…).

Yet the same Ron Fournier called Barack Obama “the least transparent president in the nation’s history,” but never called for a Barack boycott. Obama tried to prosecute reporters.

Given Hillary Clinton’s remarkable avoidance of the press, outside the most controlled of situations, and her campaign’s apparent go fuck yourself attitude. “We’ll have a press conference when we want to have a press conference” signals a continuation of Obama’s transparency plus Hillary’s epic secrecy.

Of course, being the Washington Post, the piece slams Trump throughout instead of Hillary’s controlling arrogance.

Politicians can only be this arrogant with the media’s acquiescence.

Plain and simple, it isn’t the job of journalists to try and silence speech. I can’t even believe I’m saying that. It’s dangerous and stupid.

While usually a writer who asks us to “do better,” Fournier’s suggestion does worse. It feels like the rant of a frustrated and bitter man.

Fournier says he doesn’t come to his boycott conclusion easily. So before you silence a presidential candidate, here’s a question for Ron and other journalists:

Why don’t voters have confidence in the press?

The elite media, on the left and the right, pound Donald Trump every hour of every day, yet he’s the GOP nominee and holding his own for now. Despite their best efforts over time they’ve gained little traction.

Does the media’s frustration and desire to silence a candidate come from the fact the voters have silenced the media?

 

© 2016 carlgottliebdotnet

Back in the USSR

People react to bad news in a number of ways. They freak about the message, or freak about the messenger. After it was revealed the Democratic National Committee screwed Bernie Sanders and his supporters, by favoring Hillary Clinton, media is angry at the possible messenger.

Yes, the more information profession is pissed off about more information. So, when in doubt, blame the Russians. It reminded me of this scene from “Dr. Strangelove.” Media jumped on that narrative faster than Slim Pickens on a nuke.

drstranglovebomb
Photo courtesy: Dr. Strangelove/Columbia Pictures

Never mind it took the FBI up to a year to determine they couldn’t figure out if the Russians, or others, hacked Hillary’s server of convenience and obstruction. Within days, we hear it’s likely the hackers were the Russians. From “experts.” As a former TV producer I can find an expert to tell you Guam is sinking. In Congress. But, that’s a story for another time.

And it’s not like the DNC wasn’t warned.

This morning, Donald Trump dared to go where Hillary hasn’t since December 4, 2015. The candidate for US president held an open press conference and took questions from reporters for about an hour.

Here’s what made the media crap themselves today.

While answering questions from reporters in Florida today, Trump looked directly into the cameras and said, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.” (ABC News)

Clinton’s camp was in high dudgeon. The media followed.

Clinton’s senior policy adviser, Jake Sullivan, released a statement in response to Trump’s comments.

“This has to be the first time that a major presidential candidate has actively encouraged a foreign power to conduct espionage against his political opponent,” Sullivan said. “That’s not hyperbole. Those are just the facts. This has gone from being a matter of curiosity and a matter of politics to being a national security issue.” (ABC News)

Now, here’s the part of that exchange that isn’t getting a lot of play. It changes the context of Trump’s “Russia, if you’re listening…” remark.

“By the way, if they hacked, they probably have her 33,000 emails. I hope they do. They probably have her 33,000 emails that she lost and deleted.” (ABC News)

Trump mocked the press and they bit.

Now, to be clear, if the Russians are trying to influence our politics it’s a bad thing. But that bad thing has been going on forever. We do the same. Look at Barack Obama trying to oust Benjamin Netanyahu. Despite the administration’s earlier denials, look at what a Senate committee turned up.

And it’s not the first time a major presidential candidate has actively encouraged a foreign power to conduct espionage against his political opponent.

Think “Lion of the U.S. Senate” and, bad driver of Oldsmobiles, Ted Kennedy.

Kennedy (lost to Jimmy Carter in 1980 and had to withdraw because of the Oldsmobile in 1972) was so desperate to keep Ronald Reagan from being re-elected in 1984, he secretly went to the Soviet Union for help. This was made public in the early 90’s after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Never mind that the current administration and current Democratic candidate for president underestimated Russia and mocked Republicans about the Cold War.

But back to the media.

Not all WikiLeaks are equal. Or so it would seem.

The Washington Post was thrilled to invite its readers to find what they could in the so-called “Cairo cables.” They went as far as crowd-sourcing the database to turn up more information faster.

Just like the Cairo WikiLeaks, the DNC WikiLeaks are about information. Sure, the Russians may be a secondary story and a big one at that, but the screwing over of a candidate and his followers is really the story right now.

Bernie Sanders knows darn well what happened. When asked if he trusted Hillary to carry out the “left leaning platform” for the Democrats, Sanders balked.

“Sorry, I’m not going to get into the trusted or not,” he responded.

“Hillary Clinton, you know, as I just said a moment ago, [you asked me to] characterize somebody in a way I’m not going to. Hillary Clinton is a very, very intelligent person . . . I’ve known her for 25 years.” (NY Post)

Just as Ted Cruz didn’t endorse Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders wouldn’t, when he could, say he trusted Hillary Clinton.

And, if you believe for a second that Debbie Wasserman Shultz wasn’t in the tank for Hillary Clinton, look at it this way instead.

Who knows more than DWS about collusion between the DNC and Hillary camp against Sanders? Best way to silence people: hire them. Debbie also needs party backing in a potentially tough re-election to the House.

So yeah, go ahead and be outraged by Russian mischief. I’m into nostalgia.

It takes me back to the good old days of duck and cover.

DuckandCover

And given the Trump press conference took place near Miami Beach, I couldn’t help but think of the Beatles send-up of the Cold War.

Here’s Paul McCartney performing in Kiev in 2008.

No matter how you feel about the DNC leaks and who leaked them, it’s hard to see why the content rather than the alleged leaker is the main story. I expect our enemies to mess with us. But neither Obama’s “flexibility,” or Clinton’s “reset button,” look like good foreign policy right now.

Funny thing. When I was a TV news manager I took many calls from disgruntled (love that word) viewers who had issues with stories. Only a tiny percentage of those stories had factual problems.

I always touched base with the producer or reporter involved with the questioned piece. More often than not one of us uttered this phrase of frustration, “they always want to kill the messenger.”

 

 

© 2016 carlgottliebdotnet

The Star of David

On the day the former Secretary of State, and presidential front runner Hillary Clinton, is questioned at headquarters by the FBI about her e-mail set up, the mainstream media are obsessed with a Donald Trump campaign tweet that has a Star of David in it.

04fd-stardavid-blog427
Photo courtesy of New York Times

As a Jew and the son of two holocaust survivors, I took a look to see if it was upsetting. It really wasn’t. In fact, since Hillary isn’t Jewish the charges make no sense.

But where have I seen the Star of David (outside Judaism) before?

Insert swirly flashback lines here. Sometime around 1972.

I was on I-40 West headed to Memphis. If you’ve ever driven that stretch of road, you know there is usually little traffic and flat, straight road. For me and my Camaro it was too much to resist.

My foot hit the floor and the V8 roared. The front of the Camaro jumped and in an instant I went from the speed limit, 75 at the time, to a speed I don’t care to mention.

The blue lights in my rearview pulled my foot from the accelerator.

And there it was. The Star of David on the Trooper’s shoulder patch. And as I recall, a Star of David on the Trooper’s car.

Trooper&HisCar
A more recent photo of a trooper and his car

Anything can be twisted into the worst possible meaning, and often is when it suits media’s narrative. That is: Trump’s followers are anti-Semitic.

They’re right. Some Trump followers are scumbag anti-Semites. So are some of Hillary’s followers. So are some of Barack Obama’s devotees. Anti-Semitism is a thing in America.

If we Jews were to withhold our votes from candidates with anti-Semitic fans we’d likely never vote.

The star looked to me like a law enforcement symbol used to push Trump’s favorite attack line “crooked Hillary.” The money a symbol, to Trump supporters, of Hillary’s greed.

Just like that. Every media organization chimed in and said it was anti-Semitism. The Trump campaign changed the star into a circle. Is it proof the Star of David was there because of anti-Semitism? No. It’s proof that if you’re hounded about something you can change, you change it.

In this election media have elected to sanitize Hillary Clinton’s past. Hillary had her own anti-Semitic scandal years ago. She was accused of calling Paul Fray, a campaign aide during the 70’s a, “fucking Jew bastard.”

Contrast that to how media handled the now infamous “impromptu” Bill Clinton – Attorney General Loretta Lynch tarmac meeting.

Should media lay off Donald Trump to be fair? Hell no.

But please stop shading the news in favor of Hillary Clinton.

No one in their right mind believes the tarmac meeting was an accident. The fact that a candidate for the presidency is being questioned by the FBI is a “big fucking deal.” Apologies to Joe Biden.

Yes, remind people of her past. Many young voters weren’t alive or were kids when Hillary ran the “nuts and sluts” campaign against Bill’s accusers. They deserve to know everything, and no, the press doesn’t get to decide what’s been “litigated.”

One of the first things you’re taught as a journalist is to assume your audience knows nothing about the story.

As a former News Director of mine would implore, “a random act of journalism please?”

 

© 2016 carlgottliebdotnet

The Samuel Taylor Coleridge Election

This November, Americans will likely have to choose as their president one of the two most reviled and polarizing people in American politics.

Putting aside straight up Democrat vs Republican politics, the media should take the blame for two things they hate to acknowledge and likely won’t remedy; lack of trust by the public and their own bias. Both issues have some bearing on how this election has gone so far.

In September 2015, Gallup released its regular Trust in Media poll. What it showed was troubling. Trust in media was at an all-time low of 40%.

And it’s not only Republicans who aren’t feeling the love, where under a third (32%) trust media. Independents are at 33%. Democrats’ trust in media has plummeted from a high of 70% in 2005 to just 54% when the survey was conducted. And in what should be a loud wake-up call, only 35% of those under 50 trust media.

When you don’t trust the messenger, you don’t trust the message.

A more recent Rasmussen Report poll about media bias in election coverage helps us understand a little more about what’s happening. Voters believe, by a wide margin, that the media are biased against Donald Trump and favor Hillary Clinton.

Almost half (49%) believe media are biased against Trump, while only 15% think media are against Clinton. The survey also reminds us that voters believed media was biased for Barack Obama.

And just the other week Gallup dropped this little bomb on the self-righteous newspaper industry. Only 20% have a great deal of confidence in newspapers. Even Democrats and “young adults” have lost confidence in newspapers.

The people are right. Media were in the tank for Obama, and they’re in the tank for Hillary this time around. Think JournoList during the 2008 election.

But forget 2008 for now. A look at how more recent events played out in the news media are revealing.

In early May the NY Times Magazine published a story where Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor to the White House, admitted he and the president’s operatives lied about Iranian moderates to create an echo chamber with reporters (essentially a situation in which opposing viewpoints are suppressed, while the favorable position is constantly reiterated) to help secure the Iran Deal in Congress and influence public opinion. Rhodes also insulted the same reporters calling them a bunch of 27 year olds “[who] literally know nothing.”

Instead of holding the Obama administration accountable for lying, most news media reacted with speed and fury to trash the author, David Samuels. One criticism was that the author should have stated his politics on the issue. Predictably, the story got little traction except for in conservative media. Liberal media tried hard to refute it. After a few days the story died. Here’s how Samuels defended himself.

Weeks later, Michael Barbaro and Megan Twohey, of the New York Times, did a piece about Donald Trump’s past behavior with women. The story made little or no real news, yet every morsel was lapped up, analyzed, and Trump criticized and harrumphed over for days on cable shows.

The horrible facts? Trump was a playboy rake, and often a boor, who liked pretty women in bikinis – yet was far ahead of the curve in promoting women in the construction trade despite taking heat for it. Shockingly, at times some women felt Trump was inappropriate.

Despite Barbaro being a frequent Trump Twitter tormenter, no one in media seemed concerned with his political leanings.

The Trump story got many news cycles. The admission by an administration official that one of the main selling points of the Iran Nuclear Deal was bull, got a big “meh.”

How about the media treatment of the long awaited State Department Inspector General’s report about Hillary’s email server?

The IG said that Clinton having a private email server violated federal standards.

When department officials approached Hillary staffers about the server they were sent packing and told never to bring up the subject again.

Not only that, Clinton lied about having permission to use the server. The report said she never even asked to use a private server.

We also know that despite her assurances that she was cooperating with the Inspector General, she refused to be interviewed for the investigation. The only former Secretary of State to not cooperate.

I figured this was curtains for Hillary. I figured wrong.

There was a great start by both the NY Times and Washington Post editorial pages which blasted her. The story got a few days coverage and is now old news to the media.

I don’t mean to single out Jake Tapper, since he usually holds all sides accountable. That’s why I found his May 31 interview with Hillary Clinton frustrating.

I happened to be watching CNN the afternoon Tapper teased us through an hour of waiting for Hillary to call in. I waited because Tapper is usually a no-BS tough interviewer, known to go for the jugular.

Instead, Tapper asked a throw away question citing a USA Today editorial that said of the former Secretary of State, “she is going to have to convince voters that she can put the national security above her short-term self-interest.”

Here’s Tapper’s question: “Do you see this as a challenge that you have to face to convince voters you’ll put national security ahead of your own interests?”

Clinton’s stammering answer: “Well, I have — I think that is obvious. I always have.”

Ya think?

Did anyone believe she’d answer, “Jake, the editorial is correct. It was my intention to hide things from public scrutiny that made me look bad, the national interest be damned.”

Tapper let Clinton ramble on for a while and never pushed her on the issue. Here’s the transcript. Decide for yourself.

Maybe Tapper was having a bad day.

How about a simple, “The Inspector General’s report says you never asked for permission to have a private server. You said you had permission. Which is it?

Or, “You’ve said you were fully cooperating with the Inspector General’s investigation, but the report says you’re the only Secretary of State who refused to be interviewed.” Again, which is it?

Compare and contrast (I’ve always wanted to say that) Tapper’s questioning of Donald Trump about his criticism of Judge Gonzalo Curiel during the latest Trump storm.

To be sure, the way Tapper interviewed Trump should be, and is, the standard. Obviously, Tapper has the brains and skill to hold The Donald accountable. What people at home rightfully ask is, why didn’t Hillary get the same treatment?

And, more recently it appears Tapper does get it. He seems to understand that people have a right to expect equal treatment of the candidates in going after the truth. So what happened?

The media are not immune to one of the basic reactions of human nature. When people lose faith in anything they seek what they’re looking for elsewhere.

We now have lots of media that will confirm your bias no matter what you believe. Liberals don’t seek news on conservative sites and conservatives won’t go to liberal sites. Neither side finds the other’s media credible. Each sides abuses the other on social media.

The problem is while folks may be reading, watching, or listening, no one is hearing anything they don’t want to hear. This is true for those on the left and the right.

Try confronting a Clinton supporter with the recent IG’s report. When finally conceding to facts, Clinton supporters inevitably go with, “all politicians lie.” You get the same from Trump supporters.

Try telling a Bernie Sanders supporter his ideas are nice, but pie-in-the-sky socialism hasn’t worked anywhere ever. Be prepared to get blasted.

No matter who a voter supports in 2016, truth is expendable in defense of that position. The argument has become “the other guy’s lies are worse.” Theater of the Absurd, anyone?

The news media are a vital public institution that rely on buy-in from the public to be effective. When more than half the people don’t trust you, and your only capital is trust, it’s a problem.

A few commentators have already mentioned the lack of conservatives in newsrooms leading to groupthink bias. It’s even been said that reporters are out of touch with the people they write about. Both allegations are true.

Media can dismiss this as an old complaint, but dismiss at your own peril.

How else to explain the rise of a phenomenon like Donald Trump that media never even saw coming?

Journalism, at its core, is a conversation with the people. How do you have that conversation when you don’t even know who the people are?

How do have that conversation with people you look down on? Elitism is a problem.

If the people believe media’s approach to covering news is slanted and tell them so, isn’t media obliged to have that conversation? Instead, what people get is mockery and derision. Look at the rage from the punditry directed at supporters of a guy they didn’t take seriously.

It feels like the rage of impotence.

Most journalists don’t intentionally set out to do biased news, even though that’s exactly what they wind up doing. Stories are conceived and executed from a liberal point of view whether it be conscience clearing “social justice” stories or political reporting. Everything is framed in a politically correct way because the majority of people who work in the news media now see things that way. Everything seems reasonable when those around you agree.

[Note: The only thing that beats political correctness in newsrooms is money. A subject for another time.]

And while journalism has rightfully made great strides in many types of diversity – newsrooms look very different from when I started in the early 1970’s – diversity of thought remains the lone outcast.

If you were in journalism when Fox News started, you know there was great gnashing of teeth from the journalism establishment about a channel with a conservative slant. The notion that a profession devoted to ideas would be worried about more ideas was telling. Some journalists went out of their way to try and discredit the new cable network.

The free market spoke and Fox News has all but destroyed their cable competition by simply offering another point of view. Some call it choice.

Look at the May 2016 ratings. Despite some recent gains by CNN, it’s a Fox News ass kicking.

In business terms it was an underserved audience the big brains in media either didn’t know or care about. How do you know an audience you won’t even acknowledge exists?

CNN’s reaction to the new network was a lesson in how not to respond to competition. They didn’t take Fox seriously.

Many of the raging pundits (band name?) have complained that this has become a post truth election because of Donald Trump. Nothing could be further from the truth. The press and pundits are the reason.

Anyone who payed attention watched the media give Barack Obama an easy ride into the White House in 2008. There were even reporters who conspired to attack Obama critics as racist. Not because they were racists, but because it was part of a strategy to discredit Obama’s critics and get him elected. I referred to JournoList earlier. Check out this hot mess.

All that needs to be said about the 2012 election is GloZell. Great vetting job. No really, great job.

What many news consumers saw is a media reluctant to go after both parties equally.

The people saw a president who did his best to squelch, and even prosecute news coverage, despite continuing to claim to be “the most transparent administration.”  The transparency president went after reporters and their parents. Ask Fox News’ James Rosen and the AP.

Where’s the self-respect in the “rock star” worshiping press when Pulitzer Prize winner James Risen of the New York Times wrote that Obama is “the greatest enemy to the press freedom in a generation.”

Maybe Jack Shafer of Politico put it best when writing about the irony of Barack Obama, enemy of the press, being chosen to give out press awards.

Despite Barack Obama’s antipathy for the press, media continues to lay off real critical coverage. Criticism of Obama hurts his legacy and reflects poorly on Hillary.

Why should the people trust the media about Trump when they couldn’t trust the media about Obama or Hillary?

Think the fun and games are over?  In this election cycle (so far), some of Hillary Clinton’s released emails revealed reporters from CNN and Politico helping her with coverage. Transactional journalism or something.

There is a danger to our way of life when the news media aren’t trusted.

That danger comes when a really bad actor shows up and the people ignore the press. If you’re on the right you believe the media have already ignored the current “emperor and the empress wannabe.” If you’re on the left, you believe the media haven’t hit the next potential “emperor” hard enough.

I frequently say I love this election. I love it because the people have sent the news media a loud and unmistakable message we’ve heard before: “I’m angry and I’m not going to take it anymore.”

So, Samuel Taylor Coleridge? Yes.

Almost 200 years ago Coleridge came up with the concept of the, “willing suspension of disbelief.” That is to say, if one could make a story, or narrative, so appealing through “human interest and the semblance of truth” people would believe even the most fantastic stories. The problem is Coleridge was writing about fiction.

 

Thanks to Josh Gottlieb for the second pair of eyes. You too MF.

© 2016 carlgottliebdotnet